Photo by Laura Hayes
Photo by Laura Hayes

Not everyone is happy that you can still get a chivito sandwich at the new incarnation of Fast Gourmet inside the Valero gas station at 14th and W Streets NW. It opened this month under the name Panino Gourmet.

“They stole our recipes and our concept,” says Fast Gourmet owner Lina Chovil. “Look at the menu, the names, our recipes. They even stole our slogan, ‘urban taste.’”

Fast Gourmet was forced to close in March because it was behind on its taxes. “We’re working to try to get back open, and we’re working with the authorities on a payment plan,” Chovil says.

After the shop closed, Chovil says she was approached by several people interested in purchasing her business, her concept, and her recipes, but she declined because she was hoping to reopen again somewhere else. In the meantime, she was going to launch a Fast Gourmet food truck to help pay the taxes they owe.

“They’re stealing the possibility of us to ever get back on our feet,” Chovil says of the new owners. She had no idea a similar concept would be opening in the space until she saw a Facebook post by U Street Buzz. “They said the same sandwiches were going to be featured but from different owners.”

Chovil says they’ve hired an attorney and are planning to sue the new owners, though she admits she doesn’t actually know who owns Panino Gourmet. No ownership contacts for Panino Gourmet are listed on its business license filings. And while it’s not possible to “steal” the recipe for something like a chivito sandwich (it’s the national sandwich of Uruguay), the menu, its headings, and its likeness are quite similar. 

Check out the menu descriptions below:

Fast Gourmet: Chivito (try it with fried egg) tenderloin, mozzarella, black forest, bacon, green olives, hard boiled eggs, escabeche, l,t,o, mayo, soft roll

Panino Gourmet: Chivito (try it with a fried egg) tenderloin, mozzarella, black forest, bacon, green olives, hard boiled eggs, escabeche, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, soft roll

Fast Gourmet: Big Mason BBQ Chicken with chicken breast, bbq, bacon, cheddar, l,t,o. kaiser roll

Panino Gourmet: Big Mason BBQ Chicken with chicken breast, bbq, bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, Kaiser roll

Fast gourmet: Meatball made with certified Angus beef, chorizo, marinara, fontina garlic baguette

Panino Gourmet: Meatball with black Angus, chorizo, marinara, fontina, garlic baguette

Fast Gourmet:Pulled Pork with pork, pineapple bbq, lemongrass coleslaw, kaiser roll 

Panino Gourmet: Pulled pork with pork, pineapple, bbq sauce, lemongrass coleslaw, kaiser roll

WCP has attempted to reach Panino Gourmet ownership. The general manager of the gas station says he knows who owns the new sandwich shop but has been instructed not to give out his or her information. 

Panino Gourmet, 1400 W St. NW